Want to market a product or service? Crank up the FEAR! The previous, of course is the famous estimate by Franklin Delano Roosevelt through the depth of the great depression. Fear and stress experienced gripped the public, and this dread was preventing people from making sound economic decisions. The last mentioned quote illustrates how people can ruin their own investment portfolios, by responding to feelings rather than intellect, buying shares when they are high (greed) and dumping them when they are low (dread).
Fear is an all natural instinct, and most of us have it. We’d all like to think that we’d be the ones to react well under great pressure – that if faced with a life-and-death situation, we’d be the ones who took the imitative and took action to save the day. But in truth, in many life-and-death situations, many of us freeze, or even soil ourselves. More than 3/4 of the soldiers in battle in World War II never fired their weapons. Many were paralyzed by dread.
The notion of being John Wayne, taking out the machine gun nest with two blazing pistols and hands grenade pins in our tooth is, for the majority of us, an utter dream. I’ve been in only one demanding situation like this in my own life, and it was enough to make me recognize that I am not John Wayne by any stretch out of the imagination.
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I know my restrictions in that respect. But when it involves personal economics and financial planning, worries involved is not that experienced by soldiers in fight or with a victim throughout a robbery. Financial events happen slowly enough that there are no sudden actions or crises the majority of the right time.
Yet fear paralyzes most of us into inaction, or into taking unnecessarily timid activities. We fail to act, and when we do act, we act in the wrong ways, or inadequate or too late. As I noted in a previous entry, through the recent downturn, some good friends of mine on Pension Island noticed their assets proceeding South.
They panicked and sold off those assets in the same way they hit rock bottom. Fear motivated these to do the worst possible thing – buy high and sell low. Dread is a good emotion hardly ever. This is not to say it will not serve a purpose. You should be afraid of high power lines, packed handguns, harmful poisons, dangerous people.
But you should ACT on those concerns, not be paralyzed by them. Fear destroys. A tightrope walker learns to regulate and manager their concerns. If they are scared while walking a tightrope, well, they will fall off then. Fear is your mind’s way of saying “give consideration” and also your mind’s way of saying “time to change something.” Like unhappiness, it should be a wake-up call that you need to change the true way your are living your life.
But frequently, people spend an entire lifetime residing in dread – or living in depression. Fear can be handy, if tackled and managed. If you ignore fear, it just festers and builds then, until it is unmanageable and controls your daily life. If you are having fears, sit down and ask yourself why. What is it in your daily life that is causing you to fearful?